Black History Month

Over 30,000 Black Fathers Joined This Facebook Support Group And Shatter Stereotypes

“I started the group because I wanted to have a connection with other fathers who were in the same boat."

More than 30,000 Black dads have joined a private Facebook group that encourages them to inspire, support, and connect with one another. Matt Prestbury, a father of four, started the Black Fathers group in 2009 after he and his wife ended their relationship. He was hoping to find support from other dads who could relate to him. 

"I started the group because I wanted to have a connection with other fathers who were in the same boat," Prestbury told Black Enterprise. "Black men from all walks of life who are fathers, husbands, married, divorced, raising children alone or fighting to be in their children's lives."

The men-only group became a virtual place for fathers of color to offer advice to one another, encourage each other, and share their experiences. 

For example, member Gary Scott found support within the group while going through a difficult custody battle. 

"I reached out to Black Fathers, and I told them it wasn't a good day for me, and the level of support I got from those guys, I thank everyone of you brothers for being there for me," Scott told ABC News. "The friendships that I have developed within that time, it's been a godsend."

The group also aims to combat misconceptions surrounding Black dads. 

"We are committed to shattering myths and stereotypes about Black fathers and fatherhood by creating and showcasing examples of actively involved Black fathers, and setting positive examples for others to follow through our actions," the group's description on Facebook says

Unfortunately, people of color are still disproportionately underrepresented in mainstream media, and too often portrayed in a negative light. This is not the reality for so many families of color, but the stereotype continue to be perpetuated. 

"A lot of times it is thought that we are not in our children's lives," Andrew Skinner Jr., a member of the group and proud father of three, told ABC News. Tyrone Walls, another member, added., "When I go out with my kids, it's like people are staring in amazement, like I'm some kind of unicorn." 

Fathers such as them may not be widely represented in media yet, but the Black Fathers Facebook group has given them a space to feel heard. Black dads who are actively involved in their kids' lives share their parenting experiences and deep love for their children. 

In addition to being a space for the men to share their thoughts, experiences, photos, and advice, the group offers legal advice for members pursuing custody or visitation rights and workshops on topics such as literacy and doing your daughter's hair. They've held events such as a daddy-daughter tea date, a spoken word celebration, networking opportunities, and more. 

"We can create vehicles of change, tell our own stories, and help strengthen one another in the process," Prestbury told Babble. "This group has made me believe in my brothers — those I know personally and those I don't — more than ever before in my life, and know how powerful we can be together. And how much we can use that power to raise up our families, our communities, and the world all around us."

Cover image via Shutterstock

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